- Number of characters: 128
- Type: abugida
- Languages: laotian
- Countries: Thailand, Laos
Lao is a Unicode block containing characters for the languages of Laos. The characters of the Lao block allocated to be equivalent to the similarly positioned characters of the Thai block immediately preceding it.
The Lao alphabet, Akson Lao (Lao: ອັກສອນລາວ ʔáksɔ̌ːn láːw), is the main script used to write the Lao language and other minority languages in Laos. It is ultimately of Indic origin, the alphabet includes 27 consonants (ພະຍັນຊະນະ ), 7 consonantal ligatures (ພະຍັນຊະນະປະສົມ ), 33 vowels (ສະຫລະ ) (some based on combinations of symbols), and 4 tone marks (ວັນນະຍຸດ ). According to Article 89 of Amended Constitution of 2003 of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, the Lao alphabet is the official script to the official language, but is also used to transcribe minority languages in the country, but some minority language speakers continue to use their traditional writing systems while the Hmong have adopted the Roman Alphabet. An older version of the script was also used by the ethnic Lao of Thailand's Isan region, who make up a third of Thailand's population, before Isan was incorporated into Siam, until its use was banned and supplemented with the very similar Thai alphabet in 1871, although the region remained distant culturally and politically until further government campaigns and integration into the Thai state (Thaification) were imposed in the 20th century. The letters of the Lao Alphabet are very similar to the Thai alphabet, which has the same roots. They differ in the fact, that in Thai there are still more letters to write one sound and the more circular style of writing in Lao. Lao, like most indic scripts, is traditionally written from left to right. Traditionally considered an abugida script, where certain 'implied' vowels are unwritten, recent spelling reforms make this definition somewhat problematic, as all vowel sounds today are marked with diacritics when written according the Lao PDR's propagated and promoted spelling standard. However most Lao outside of Laos, and many inside Laos, continue to write according to former spelling standards, which continues the use of the implied vowel maintaining the Lao script's status as an abugida. Vowels can be written above, below, in front of, or behind consonants, with some vowel combinations written before, over and after. Spaces for separating words and punctuations were traditionally not used, but a space is used and functions in place of a comma or period. The letters have no majuscule or minuscule (upper and lower case) differentiations.
Text is also available in the following languages: Русский;